Monday, May 24, 2010

Ravens, NFL need to remember what honor means

Want to stir up a debate at your local watering hole?

Just mention the Ravens Ring of Honor and then kick around the merits of each of its inductees.

Do they all belong?

Induction should be an award of distinction for unique and exemplary accomplishments. It should represent greatness in achievement. It should acknowledge uncommon feats.

Now the first thing you need to do while gauging the worthiness of current and even future inductees is cast aside the notion that the measuring stick for the Ravens Ring of Honor is Earnest Byner. That’s a joke – an egregious error on the part of Art Modell who immediately cheapened the distinction for all Ring inductees.

So let’s just kick his induction to the curb and call it a momentary lapse of reasoning. Art should have just given the man best known for “The Fumble” a company watch for years of service instead of that plaque.

The members of the Baltimore Colts in the Ravens Ring…they don’t belong there either. Great guys, great accomplishments – not Ravens, sorry! Maybe they should have designed wall plaques for the honored former Colts and hung them around Unitas Plaza. They were Colts after all, not Ravens and they don’t belong in the Ravens’ Ring – period, end of story!

Michael McCrary…terrific work effort, an overachiever and a Baltimore blue-collar guy and I love him on my team any day of the week and three times on Sunday. But was he great? Do two Pro Bowl seasons qualify you as uncommon? If it were up to me, I’d take a screw gun to the plaque and bring it down too!

Four-time Pro Bowler Peter Boulware was a terrific player and an exemplary man off the field and in the community. Tough call here but I’m still going to say no. Fifty-eight, c’mon down!

Art Modell is in the Ring and deservedly so. He belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame so the Ring is a given.

Jon Ogden – no brainer. He should have been the standard upon which all future nominees would be measured.

Ozzie Newsome?

Make it three!

Brian Billick…interesting debate here but I say thumbs down as a Ring inductee. Billick did an outstanding job in 2000 by keeping his team together and avoiding an implosion after 21 consecutive quarters without scoring a touchdown on their way to a World Championship.

But what did he do before or since that is so distinguished? Does riding the coattails of an amazing defense qualify as excellence? What about wasting several years of standout defensive play with substandard offensive play?

Am I glad Billick came along?


He brought attitude and resolve to a franchise that sorely needed it at the time but does that make him great?


How does a coach who is fired with four years remaining on a five year contract deserve to be in the Ring of Honor?

Jamal Lewis. I say pass…too much drama, a relative train-wreck off the field and he’s done nothing but trash the organization since he’s been gone. Maybe his trucking company can haul away all these unnecessary plaques.

Chris McAlister…c’mon man!

Without question CMac was a great talent.

Also without question he was a classic underachiever and hardly a model citizen.
How did McAlister distinguish himself, as the Ravens resident party boy?

Recently NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about off-the-field behavior and if that should factor into the voting for Hall of Fame candidates.

"I do believe that it's more than just how you conduct yourself on the field," Goodell said. "I believe very firmly that it's how you conduct yourself on and off the field as a member of the National Football League. That's part of your contribution to the game."

Upon hearing this many criticized Goodell, mistaking his opinion for initiating a movement to exact such a change.

"These are decisions the Hall of Fame is going to have to make, not me," Goodell said. "But if you ask me a specific question, 'Is it just their contributions on the field and their statistics?' I don't think that's the case. I think it's about what you contribute to the game of football."

Put me in Roger’s corner. The same thought process should be embraced by the Ravens when considering ROH inductees.

You know when you stop and think about it, there should be Arthur B., Ozzie and J.O. for now and that’s it!

Ray Lewis and Matt Stover, when their numbers are called – automatic inductees!

The same can be said for Ed Reed.

After that, time will tell.

Until then, let’s remember what the words “honor” and “distinction” really mean and that inductees should stand the test of time.

Otherwise they better start making those plaques a lot smaller for the ring because it’s going to get crowded up there.


Darien said...

We seriously disagree on Jamal Lewis. He carried this offense at times almost singlehandedly. Sour grapes after he left? It happens, doesn't diminish his contributions while he was here IMO.

Ravens_Flock said...

First off, Peter Boulware is one of the greatest Ravens players of all time. He is one of the rare players that spent his entire career as a Raven, which in and of itself is special. He also notched 70 career sacks, including 15 in 2001. He was one of THE biggest reasons that our 2000 D was so dominant, right there with Ray Lewis and Tony Siragusa. He's not just a 4 time Pro Bowler, he's also a career Raven, and a Super Bowl Champion. I'd say that's arguably Hall of Fame worthy. So certainly, it's Ring of Honor worthy.

Second, Jamal Lewis? He has his issues, but he's still the the greatest RB this franchise has ever had, and technically speaking, one of the greatest of all time. That 2000+ yd. season speaks for itself, as does his performance his rookie year. He was a big reason we scored any offensive points at all that year. Again, a guy that you could easily argue as a HoF inductee. So why NOT Ring of Honor?

Same for Chris McAlister. He's literally THE best CB this team has ever had. In fact, during his prime, all the way up to 2006, he was one of THE top shut down corners in the entire league. Who cares about his attitude? He was still a team player on Sunday. And again, he was a big reason we won a Super Bowl in 2000 as well.

But to say that Brian Billick doesn't belong in there? Why? Because you grew sour on him after the 2007 season? That's funny, because everyone seems to love the guy in 2006. A Coach can't help injuries, and while he has to be held at least partially accountable for the lack of offensive production, injuries, as much as Ozzie's LACK of drafting key offensive players for many years, are as much to blame.

Fact is, like his personality or not, to say that he "road the coattails of a great defense" to a Super Bowl? You might as well say that about just about EVERY Super Bowl winning coach then, because NO coach is out on the field, making plays. It is ALWAYS the players who win games, not a coach, not a scheme or a playbook. And like it or not, from 2000-2006, Billick was one of the best head coaches in the league, statistically. He helped lead a team to the post-season 4 times in a 7 year span, to two AFC North titles, and a Super Bowl victory. Not to mention helping to provide THE first non-losing season in team history. I'm sure you remember, but the Ravens were one of the jokes of the league before 1999. And regardless of HOW much credit you want to give the man, the truth is, he had a lot to do with turning this team around from losers, into a team that, barring major injuries (2002, 2005, 2007), was a perrenial playoff contender. Harbaugh inherited a great team that Billick helped to build, period.

So yes, he does deserve to go in the Ring of Honor. Someone else who does is Matt Stover. One of the best kickers in NFL history, and someone who helped the Ravens win more games than no one else, save Ray Lewis himself.

But seriously, there should be a high standard to the RoH. But if only guys the stature of Ray Lewis, or Jon Ogden, or Ed Reed, can make it in...then what's the point? People like Jamal, CMac, Boulware, and Billick certainly belong. Though I will agree with you that the Colts and Byner do not.